A&R and Manager Advice

Ways Music Managers Can Cheat You in a Contract

Ways Music Managers Can Cheat You in a Contract

Music is a passion for many, but ironically, it is also a business with its share of trials and tribulations. While music managers are vital for artists' career advancement, some practices may not favour you if you're not careful. Throughout this article, we will explore the unique ways that music managers can cheat you in a contract, arming you with the knowledge you need to protect your music career.

Fail to Clearly Define the Duties of the Manager

One of the common ways artistes are cheated is when the contract does not clearly outline the manager’s duties. Music managers handle a plethora of tasks, from arranging gigs to contract negotiations. However, if these tasks are not explicitly laid out, a manager may fail to deliver on promises, adversely affecting an artist’s career.

Lack of Specification for Compensation

Another loophole, often exploited by unscrupulous managers, is the compensation clause. Less than transparent managers often have vague terms regarding their fees. Always insist on having a detailed explanation of all forms of compensation, including base pay, bonuses, and the manager’s cut from your gigs.

Percentage From Every Income Source

A significant red flag to watch out for is an agreement that ensures the manager gets a percentage from every source of income. Many managers insist on a percentage of every single revenue stream, including merchandise, album sales, endorsements, and more. Be cautious and ensure that you retain some exclusive income sources.

Long Contract Duration

Contracts designed to lock an artist into a lengthy commitment are a common cheating strategy. Managers may attempt to convince the artist of the need for a long-term agreement to establish consistency and progress. However, this may simply be a way to tie you down and prevent you from seeking better managerial prospects.

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Music Industry Insider 2024: The Ultimate Contact Handbook

Unlock the key to your music career. This game-changing resource puts over 3,000 of the most influential music industry contacts at your fingertips.

Connect directly with the top A&Rs, Music Managers, Producers, Record Labels & Booking Agents who can elevate your music to new heights. With all the content information you need, including email addresses and phone numbers. Don't just dream of success, make it a reality.

Embrace Music Industry Insider and open doors to limitless opportunities in your music journey.

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Ways Music Managers Can Cheat You in a Contract Example:

Let’s take the example of Sam, a budding singer-songwriter. Sam was overjoyed when he got his first manager. The contract seemed impressive, but he noticed a clause which stated that his manager would receive a percentage from all/, not just some, of his earnings. Not quite understanding its implications, Sam signed the contract.

Sam struggled as he watched a large section of his income, including merchandise sales and endorsement deals, flow to his manager. The manager was not transparent about the fees or the other sources from which he was earning. Over time, Sam realised how this vague compensation structure was heavily stacked against him. He decided to cut ties, but the lengthy contract duration clause trapped him into more years of unfair conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I look for in a music management contract?

When reviewing a music management contract, pay attention to the terms of duration, commission percentage, scope of services, rights and obligations, expense details, and termination clauses. It's essential to clearly understand each provision and how it affects your career.

What is a standard commission rate for music managers?

A standard commission rate for music managers usually ranges between 15% to 20% of the artist's gross income. However, this rate can vary depending on the manager's experience, services provided, and the artist's career stage.

How can a manager cheat me with the exclusivity clause?

An exclusivity clause may prevent you from working with other industry professionals without consent. Managers can exploit this by limiting your opportunities or by taking a commission even when other parties primarily facilitated an opportunity or deal.

Are verbal agreements with music managers enforceable?

While verbal agreements can be legally binding, they are challenging to enforce due to the lack of physical evidence. Always insist on a written contract with clear terms to avoid misunderstanding and potential fraud.

What does a "sunset clause" mean, and how can it affect me?

A "sunset clause" outlines the manager's commission entitlement after the contract ends. Without a fair sunset clause, a manager might continue to receive commissions for an extended period, even when they're no longer actively working with the artist.

Should I allow my manager to have power of attorney?

Granting power of attorney gives the manager legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. This can be risky if not adequately bounded and monitored, as managers can potentially make self-benefiting decisions without your consent.

What implications are there for signing a contract with a "first right of refusal" clause?

The "first right of refusal" can lock you into giving your current manager the opportunity to refuse or accept future deals before you can bring them to others. This can delay or hinder your ability to explore better opportunities.

Can my manager legally bind me to a deal without my consent?

Usually, a manager should not be able to legally bind you to a deal without your consent unless explicitly granted this right in your contract. It's crucial to set clear limits in your agreement to protect against unauthorized commitments.

What can I do if I suspect my manager has cheated me in a contract?

If you suspect you've been cheated, seek legal counsel immediately. A legal professional can review the contract, help identify discrepancies or instances of fraud, and assist in negotiation or litigation, if necessary.

How detailed should the expense section of a management contract be?

The expense section should be detailed and transparent, outlining what expenses are covered, limits on spending, approval processes, and how expenses are reimbursed or accounted for. This clarity helps in preventing unexpected or unauthorized spending.

What lengths of contract terms are considered fair for both parties?

Contract terms typically range from one to five years. Anything longer could unfairly tie you to a management relationship without room for reassessment. Shorter terms allow for regular reevaluation of the partnership's effectiveness.

Is it normal for a manager to ask for payments or reimbursements outside of the agreed commission?

Any payments or reimbursements outside the agreed commission should be viewed with skepticism unless they are clearly outlined and justified in the contract. Unexpected financial demands can be a red flag for managerial misconduct.

Can a manager make changes to the contract terms mid-agreement?

Managers cannot unilaterally change contract terms without your agreement. Any alterations should be discussed, negotiated, and documented with both parties' consent.

What are some warning signs that a manager might be looking to take advantage of me?

Warning signs include reluctance to provide a written contract, vague or overly complex terms, pressure to sign without legal review, lack of transparency in financial matters, and promises that seem too good to be true.

How can I protect myself from being cheated in a management contract?

Protect yourself by hiring an entertainment attorney to review your contract, understanding industry standards, keeping personal records of all work and income, and ensuring clear communication and written agreements on all decisions.

What recourse do I have if my manager breaches our contract?

If your manager breaches the contract, you may have legal recourse to seek damages or terminate the agreement. It's important to consult with an attorney to explore your options and take appropriate legal action.

How important is it to define the scope of a manager's role in a contract?

It's crucial to define the scope of a manager's role to set expectations and limitations on their responsibilities and authority. A clear scope helps prevent overreach and lays the groundwork for a healthy business relationship.

Can an artist negotiate the terms of a management contract?

Yes, artists should actively negotiate the terms of a management contract to ensure a fair and equitable agreement. Remember, contract terms are not set in stone and can be adjusted to better reflect both parties' interests.

What should I do if a manager refuses to put our agreement in writing?

If a manager refuses to provide a written agreement, treat it as a major red flag. It's in your best interest to have all terms in writing to prevent misinterpretation and provide legal proof of the agreement.

How can I ensure that the post-termination rights in the contract are fair?

To ensure fairness in post-termination rights, pay close attention to the sunset clause, post-term commissions, and ongoing obligations. These should be reasonable, time-limited, and factor in the manager's contribution to your career.

Knowledge is power. By understanding the possible pitfalls of a music management contract, you can confidently navigate the music business industry. This article has provided an insight into what to watch out for when signing these contracts. Share it with other artists you know who could benefit from this information. Meanwhile, why not explore our other guides on Lyric Assistant? And remember, when it comes to writing the perfect song, our AI tool is always ready to assist you.

Music Industry Insider 2024: The Ultimate Contact Handbook

Unlock the key to your music career. This game-changing resource puts over 3,000 of the most influential music industry contacts at your fingertips.

Connect directly with the top A&Rs, Music Managers, Producers, Record Labels & Booking Agents who can elevate your music to new heights. With all the content information you need, including email addresses and phone numbers. Don't just dream of success, make it a reality.

Embrace Music Industry Insider and open doors to limitless opportunities in your music journey.

trustpilot 1

Music Industry Insider 2024: The Ultimate Contact Handbook

Unlock the key to your music career. This game-changing resource puts over 3,000 of the most influential music industry contacts at your fingertips.

Connect directly with the top A&Rs, Music Managers, Producers, Record Labels & Booking Agents who can elevate your music to new heights. With all the content information you need, including email addresses and phone numbers. Don't just dream of success, make it a reality.

Embrace Music Industry Insider and open doors to limitless opportunities in your music journey.

trustpilot 1

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About Toni Mercia

Toni Mercia is a Grammy award-winning songwriter and the founder of Lyric Assistant. With over 15 years of experience in the music industry, Toni has written hit songs for some of the biggest names in music. She has a passion for helping aspiring songwriters unlock their creativity and take their craft to the next level. Through Lyric Assistant, Toni has created a tool that empowers songwriters to make great lyrics and turn their musical dreams into reality.

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